Early this year, mobile operators had reached an agreement to share future cell site infrastructure to reduce costs and also overcome space crunch. Four new pilot cell site projects on a shared basis in Delhi were inaugurated by communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran a few months back.
Industry sources told FE that as all the operators were looking at pan-India rollout, sharing existing cell sites would enable a faster roll-out and bring about considerable savings in their capital and operating expenditure in a market marked by declining tariff.
The major gainers will be Reliance which has aggressive plans to roll out GSM services in 21 circles for which it has applied for GSM spectrum. Aircel also will gain as it has also applied for licences for almost all the circles and recently was given letter of intent for seven circles.
Idea is also looking for expansion. It has got the licence for Mumbai circle and would soon roll out services there. Bharti Airtel has plans to reach out to all 5,200 census towns in the country and such a sharing deal would help it in faster roll-out.
The move comes soon after a similar agreement was signed between Reliance, Hutch-Essar and Idea Cellular
Apart from saving on capex and opex and faster roll-out, the move would also add a revenue stream for companies as they would charge rental for sharing the cell sites.